Patriots: Ranking the 2019 regular season opponents
5. Cleveland Browns (HOME)
Tom Brady might be 6-1 all-time against the Cleveland Browns, but we’re expecting a closer-than-expected matchup next season when the Dawg Pound comes to Foxborough.
Once the laughingstock of the NFL, the Browns are suddenly one of its hottest teams heading into the offseason. Behind inspired and reinvigorated play from newcomers like Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Myles Garrett, and Denzel Ward, Cleveland has all the look of a young and ascendant power in the AFC. It’s fair to label them a dark horse playoff team in 2019 – after all, they just barely missed the cut in 2018, which would have been inconceivable to many this same time last year.
The Browns have the kind of defense that could give the Patriots fits, particularly with another offseason’s worth of OTAs, minicamps, and training camp coming in Cleveland. Mayfield, in particular, showed remarkable poise as a rookie, legitimately challenging Saquon Barkley for ROY honors down the stretch. For the first time in what feels like forever, there is hope in Cleveland that the team may finally have found its starting quarterback.
We still think that Patriots will win this game, but it should be a lot closer than many would have thought at the beginning of the 2018 season.